Warning: long ramblings incoming. Proceed at your own risk!
As 2013 is coming to an end (and for some of you Pinsiders in Australia and New Zealand it already has) I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring! With around a dozen manufacturers, old and new, working on new games it's probably going to be a spectacular year for pinball and I hope the Pinside will continue to be the place to be for talk about all this silver ball goodness!
For me, 2013 was first and foremost about my daughter Fenna who was born on March 10th. No one can prepare you for that but it's all going great! As for Pinside, it was the year of the big server move and large visual changes to the site and mostly to the forum. This was generally well received and most things appear to be working well (hey, we survived MMR night!) Some unforeseen things too and many small bugs which I have yet to fix.
There are also some negatives that I want to address. One of the main rules for participating on this site is "be nice". This site is intended as a positive place, you know, like that game of pinball you play after a hard days work (well, for some of you during your work). However, a small group of Pinsiders keep popping on my radar for their negative contributions to the site. We have our ban system but this doesn't seem to be doing much to stop this. One of my new years resolutions is to start being less forgiving towards this behaviour. In other words, I'm gonna be digging up the old ban hammer soon. No hard feelings, but you will need to take this banter, fun, goofing, trolling or whatever you want to call it some place else. Pinside doesn't have to be all rainbows and butterflies all the time, but having your name appear in every single locked thread is not something to be proud of.
Other than trolling and name calling, I think Pinside needs to be careful not to be too negative sometimes towards the manufacturers. It's real easy to be negative but I feel we could be a bit more constructive in our criticism sometimes. Especially towards Stern and JJP. These companies are building new games and keeping our hobby alive. I am very honoured to have some of the industry greats participating/lurking on Pinside (like Dennis Nordman, Keith Johnson and John Popadiuk). JJP staff is already posting here and I hope that we will be welcoming some Stern people on the site as well in the future. For that to happen, I'm asking all of you to keep it respectful towards these companies and towards each other. Even if you are not buying the latest games I think that them adding new games to the market is a pretty good thing for everyone enjoying pinball.
What we should be proud of is a bunch of things, often completely spontaneous actions like the Tommy project and the beautiful posters to go along with it. And on the last day of 2013 Pinsiders got together and showed their true spirit beyond the game of pinball: we successfully (helped) fund a wheelchair for a beautiful little girl in Chicago, IL - While it has zero to do with pinball it makes me incredibly proud for founding this community.
Pinside exploded during Expo and the PPS Medieval Madness remake announcement and we hit record breaking numbers that night. But it was a great year overall with over 44 million page views in over 5 million visits from nearly a million unique visitors! That's 86% growth in pageviews, compared to the previous year. Unfortunately, as our storage needs are also increasing, so are our costs. I'm expecting another server move this year (at least for the images because my current solution for storage at S3 turns out to be rather expensive) but without having to rewrite large parts of code this time. I hope to keep downtime to a minimum but it will require some, I'm afraid.
Commercially, Pinside is increasingly being found and utilised by people who have made pinball their business in some ways. Distributors, parts suppliers, mod makers and repair professionals. And that's great! This synergy is good for the hobby and I love seeing al the new stuff that everyone is coming up with. Software updates for old games, 3D printed asteroids, undercab lighting kits, Emerald city mods, pinball firmware browser software and awesome alternative translites. Keep it up! However, I must beware that people are not taking advantage of the Pinside communit.
For 2014 I am planning to keep Pinside ad free and user supported I must admit I have been thinking about ways to raise some more income to allow me to do less "work work" during the day and more "pinside work" thus spending less nights behind a computer to keep the site running smoothly. But the site will always be free to participate (well, at least for non commercial use). Hey, maybe one day this site could be a full time job
Last but not least, I want to thanks the moderator team for all their work on the forum. It's a tough job, sometimes unrewarding and it's not easy to be 100% fair all the time. I think they're all doing a great job and without them this site would have long gone down the internet gutter. For the coming year I hope to do away with the Pinside contact form and find a way to have moderators and/or editors be able to help me answer the many dozens of questions and PMs I get every week. Answering questions is currently taking up a lot of my time and while I like getting mail it's getting a bit too much lately
Anyways, thanks for reading this ramble. Those were all just some random thoughts as we're closing in on 2014. I wish all of you Pinsiders a fantastic 2014 and hope to see you next year!!!